Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made…
(From poem Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning)
It’s never easy to find a new home.
Just ask Barbara Nelson, a former account manager from Seattle. When her husband passed away, she moved from the century-old house where they had lived for 48 years. She has piercing eyes and a strong voice, but it trembles slightly as she explains: “It was so traumatic. After the estate sale, I took five things out of that house and walked away. I felt like I … » More …
In the embers of an ancient winter day, a Swedish scout scrambles up the hill of snow-covered boulders, hurrying over the slippery ground between them along a narrow path. His panting breath trails after him until he stumbles through the castle gate gasping, “Vandals on the riverbank! Bandits to the east!”
The heavy palisade slams shut behind him as men rush to position along a glinting rock wall. From 150 feet above the valley floor, they watch as silhouettes begin scaling the boulders below. With a signal, arrows and stones rain down upon them, yet the marauders advance, dragging their weapons or clenching them in … » More …
In the ghoulish world of infectious disease agents, prions might well be the zombies. Unlike bacteria and viruses, prions have no DNA, yet still manage to replicate. Nearly indestructible themselves, the tiny agents slowly ravage the brains of their victims in an infection that is always fatal.
Prions were the culprit behind the mad cow disease outbreak in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And today, they’re driving the epidemic of chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreading rapidly through deer and elk across North America.
For nearly thirty years, Don Knowles ’88 PhD has bravely investigated these strange and elusive infectious particles. When asked if he … » More …
Our boy Mic’s symptoms were so subtle and their onset so gradual we didn’t initially see them. In fact, our other dogs noticed them first.
Mic, a Pembroke corgi then 12, had always embodied good “dog manners.” He’d never met a dog who didn’t like him. Suddenly, he was enraging his packmates. We sympathized; his nighttime barking was fraying our nerves, too.
A number of vet visits and lab tests revealed nothing, and Mic continued to decline. But when his spatial perception deteriorated, we realized he was acting like some elderly people and concluded, almost tongue-in-cheek, he had “doggy dementia.”
“Can you be an effective physician without also being an ethical physician?” That’s the question students in the inaugural class of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University faced for the first time on day two of classes. They’ll revisit it regularly as they make their way towards the MD degree and entry into a profession that has, many bioethicists and physicians believe, an ethic built right into it. To say that there is an ethic internal to medicine is to say that certain kinds of moral responsibilities are built right into what it means to be a part of … » More …
Old assumptions about human breast milk are giving way to new thinking about microbes in milk and their role in children’s health and our immune systems.
It happened again, most recently at a conference in Prague. After she gave her talk, a scientist came up to Shelley McGuire, a pioneer exploring the microbial communities found in human breast milk, and told her, You don’t know how to take a sample. Your samples must have been contaminated. Human milk is sterile.
McGuire, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University, knows differently: She’s seen the microbes with her own eyes. But she understands … » More …
“After you set the table with your best efforts, let your real pleasure come from looking around the table before breaking bread together and appreciating the similarities in your guests rather than the differences.”
—Maya Angelou, 2011
Breaking bread, banquets, or potlucks—however and wherever we enjoy the delightful experience of sharing a meal, we can tell our stories, cross cultural boundaries, and begin to learn each other’s histories.
The holidays especially give us the opportunity to gather for food and talk, so important when it feels like we live in a time rife with incivility and torn by divisiveness.
It is about the miles when you are an ultramarathoner.
TWO DAYS BEFORE THE START OF WSU’S FALL SEMESTER, Di Wu staggers down a rugged trail in the towering Sawatch Mountain Range in Colorado. He wheezes with every breath after loping, hiking, and toiling for nearly 50 miles—his training ground in Pullman had done little to prepare him for the suffocating, thin air.
Wu crosses 12,000-foot Hope Pass, a rigorous day’s hike by itself for most. Faced with the prospect of continuing back over the pass, and on to the finish of the Leadville Trail 100-miler, Wu realizes his weary legs are not … » More …
Humans generally think of themselves as highly evolved creatures, but when it comes to stress, our fear response is as primitive as the tiny beasts that fled predators 500 million years ago. Though lifesaving, this fight-or-flight system is also triggered by modern concerns such as political Facebook posts or being stuck in traffic. Over time, psychological stress can build into an internal time bomb.
While some suggest humans have outgrown their stress system, studies show there are ways to teach that old brain new tricks, helping to calm the angst that comes with contemporary living.